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Written Answers

Thursday 6 March 2008

Armed Forces: Chelsea Barracks

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The sale of Chelsea Barracks completed on 31 January 2008 for a total consideration of £959 million. Payments to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) will be split evenly over the five years ending 31 January 2011 with the initial two payments having already been received. Although a final cost, including legal, marketing and other professional fees, in connection with the transaction has still be determined, these are expected to be in the order of £1 million.

The MoD is retaining the full benefit of the disposal proceeds arising from the sale which is being invested in improved service accommodation.

Artists: Resale Rights

Lord Luke asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): The current directive provides an option for the UK to extend the derogation from 2010 to 2012. Exercising this option would require the UK to make a formal request to the European Commission before 1 January 2009 and this issue is currently under consideration.


Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: We have no plans to require smart readers to be installed on all buses in England. In areas where there are no smart readers, the new concessionary bus passes can simply be shown to the bus drivers as they are now.

We have provided a total grant of £31 million to fund the distribution of around 6 million smartcard

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concessionary passes for April this year. We are also looking at what else can be done to incentivise both bus operators and local authorities to speed up the rollout of full smart ticketing.

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Take-up rates of concessionary travel passes for those aged 60 and over in areas of England in each of the last five years is shown in the table below:

Concessionary fare take-up by area type: England 2002-06 Source: National Travel Survey
Men and women aged 60 and over
Take-up rate (per cent)

1 London Boroughs






2 Metropolitan built-up areas






3 Other urban areas over 250,000 population






4 Urban areas over 25,000 to 250,000






5 Urban areas over 10,000 to 25,000






6 Urban areas over 3,000 to 10,000






7 Rural areas






All areas






Local authorities are responsible for forecasting likely future take-up in their area based on local knowledge. In estimating the likely cost impact of the new concession an assumption of 85 per cent pass take-up across England was used. We currently expect authorities outside London to issue around 6 million passes for the new concession.

Energy: Biofuels

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: Currently, pure biodiesel used in off-road applications attracts a duty rate of 30.35p per litre, the same as biodiesel used on roads, but then users are able to claim a rebate of 27.22p per litre, giving an effective duty rate of 3.13p per litre. Where biodiesel is blended with conventional fuel for use in agricultural machinery it is also subject to a duty rate of 56.94p per litre. Pure biodiesel used as a heating fuel is not subject to duty. In addition, people who produce less than 2,500 litres of biofuel in any year pay no duty on this fuel.

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The Chancellor of the Exchequer keeps all taxation under review. Any changes to fuel duty will be announced in the context of the Budget.

House of Lords: Prime Ministerial Nominations

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): All nominations for life peerages are vetted by the House of Lords Appointments Commission with the exception of new Ministers and Law Lords.

Northern Ireland: Bill of Rights

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: “Significant” in the context of the Written Answer (WA 46) on 19 February 2008 refers to the adjudged scale of an adverse differential impact in relation to any of the categories set out in Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, following a screening exercise.

Omagh Bombing

Baroness Harris of Richmond asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: On receipt of Mr Justice Weir's detailed judgment the Secretary of State met the chief constable and the chairman of the Policing Board. He subsequently met representatives of the Omagh families.

The implications of the judgment are far-reaching and consequently a range of steps have been taken. The Policing Board has announced an independent external overview of the investigation; Professor Brian Caddy is conducting a review of “low-template DNA analysis”; the Police Ombudsman's investigation is ongoing; and the Secretary of State has commissioned a review of the forensic science concerns raised by the judge.

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Prisons: Energy Efficiency

Lord Harrison asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Prison Service will undertake an energy awareness campaign across the prison estate in April 2008. The service is working with the Carbon Trust to undertake energy surveys in three geographic areas which will be completed by March 31 2008. The report produced by the consultants Severn and Wye Energy Agency will be further considered with a view to its implementation as funds allow.

Railways: West Coast Main Line

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: This is a matter for the independent Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), whose investigation has concluded that the problems experienced over the New Year were part of a continuing breach by Network Rail of its network licence. The ORR is now consulting on its response.

Network Rail is exploring urgently with passenger and freight operators and user representatives the option of funding a package of customer improvements worth £14 million. If agreement can be reached by the end of the month, the ORR could decide to endorse this rather than imposing its proposed penalty on Network Rail for breaching its licence.

Roads: Litter

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Thurrock Borough Council is the litter authority, under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, for the A13 within its borough. It has two crews dedicated to clearance of litter on the A13 verges within Thurrock on a daily basis. Litter clearance on the central reserve requires traffic management for

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safety reasons so this work is combined with highway works to minimise traffic delays. The next central reserve works are planned for 17 March.

The agency has also contacted Essex County Council, which is the highway authority for the A13 between the A176 and the A130. Essex County Council has advised that the next inspection will be on the 12 March and the next thorough litter picking is scheduled for Spring 2008 by Basildon District Council, the litter authority. Litter at lay-bys continues to be collected weekly with verges and slip roads cleared monthly.

The Highways Agency continues to monitor the trunk road section of the A13 for litter as part of its route stewardship. The agency makes representations to the relevant litter authority for clearance where

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needed and supports them by programming works to enable safe clearance of litter under traffic management.

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